OPEN 24 HOURS
“Welcome to the graveyard shift.”
Director/Writer: Padraig Reynolds / Cast: Vanessa Grasse, Brendan Fletcher, Cole Vigue, Emily Tennant, Daniel O’Meara, Tomislav Stojanovic, Selina Giles.
Body Count: 8
Spoilers in aisle four.
A Canadian production, mostly filmed in Serbia, shrinks things down to a single-location boonies gas station, where recently paroled Mary (Grasse) lands a job covering the 10pm-6am shift as cashier.
Her crime? She set fire to her serial-killer boyfriend, The Rain Ripper, after he offed 35 young women, including several in front of her. Traumatised by this, Mary still suffers from flashback hallucinations that James is coming to get her. “He can’t even walk” says her best friend Deb, reminding her that James is locked up.
If that’s so, who is the rainmacked figure Mary keeps seeing lurking? Who keeps calling her? Who plays the old 50s love song down the phone like James used to before he went out on the hunt for a victim? Her gruff parole officer Tom convinces her she’s imagining most of it, but also cautions her that some of the victims’ relatives blame her for their loved ones’ deaths.
As the clock ticks away, Mary gets a couple of quirky customers, is checked on by day-employee Bobby, hears doors creaking in the empty market, finds strands of hair in blocked toilets, and a number of hallucinations. Then James shows up and tells her he is real. But… is he?
Yes. To put it bluntly, he has broken out of jail, clearly can still walk, and has somehow tracked her down to the gas station on her first night working there and abducted a few schmucks to kill in front of her – because he loves her. Or something.
Open 24 Hours doesn’t unfold in quite so typical slasher style, with victims captured for killing later when James has Mary where he wants her. The run up to this event is still decent though, making the most of the rain-soaked locus, shots where Mary’s stalker is stood behind her in the frame, but balances delicately along the beam of reality vs. paranoia: Can her mind be trusted?
In a post Haute Tension world I wouldn’t have been surprised if the twist was that Mary herself was the killer and projecting it all on a not-even-there James, but the film (wisely?) opts for the more acceptably obvious outcome: He’s real, he’s a killer, she’s the final girl. In that sense, Open 24 Hours wraps up to taut girl vs. loon final act that doesn’t pander to too many cliches. A tacked on ‘later’ scene is needless, but it at least assures us that Mary was okay as much as someone could be in that scenario.
A worthwhile effort for fans of nicely made indie-flicks that wring a lot out of a small cast and set.
Blurb-of-interest: Brendan Fletcher was in Freddy vs Jason.